Chapter One
2. A By-Passed Hinterland

The early Filipino, according to national artist Nick Joaquin, was a river dweller. He was a Taga-Ilog, a Kapampangan or an Ilocano. He reserved his mountains for enchantresses like Mariang Makiling or Mariang Sinukuan, and climbed the hills only as a refugee from the justice or injustice of the lowlands.

In the beginning, Kalookan had two things going against it.  It had no navigable river, and it was a forested hill.

Thus, while the Tagalogs had flourishing communities in the Pasig River delta centuries before Magellan and Legaspi, Kalookan was virgin land up to the opening decades of the 18th century.  From their vantage point, the people of Maynila and Tondo traded with settlements up-river, to what are now Rizal and Laguna lake towns.  Chinese junks and a few stray paraws from the Visayas and other points South sailed past Corregidor to the palisades of the delta, to bring in what was then Manila's entire foreign trade activity.

The area that would later on become Manila's gateway to the North was by-passed in all of these maritime activities.  It was, in fact, a highland barrier between the capital city and all points north of Canal de la Reyna in Tondo.  Very few would be attracted to settle an inaccessible site that was both commercially and agriculturally untenable.

Yet settle it some people did, so that by the end of the 18th century, Fray de Zuņiga found in Aromahan about 100 families that he described as poverty-stricken, impiously neglectful of their church, addicted to gambling, deceitful in their dealings with others and, worse, killers and robbers.

Who were these people? Where did they come from?